Trail Journal

Date: June 1 2000
Trail Day: 1
Miles Today: 4.8
Location: Cap Bon Ami Campground
Section Mile: IAT 4.8
ECT Mile: 4.8

The views along the ocean are spectacular. I saw a porcupine on the trail. First it looked like a skunk ready to spray me. I backed away quickly but then realized it was a porcupine. I shouted and yelled to get him off the trail - no effect. Walked around. By the end of the day I had seen 4 porcupines. None of them ran away when they heard or saw me approaching. Also saw a rabbit - possibly domestic gone wild. He moved off the trail but did not run. He sat there about 10 ft from me. Also saw an unidentified bird near a tiny stream. He would not run or fly away either. He was almost all black, was the size of a hen and had raised tail feathers like a peacock displaying. He also had a tuft on his head.

I had decided on taking it easy and not overdo the hiking the first day. I did not overdo it but am certainly in the vicinity. The muscles above the knees have started cramping. As I was nearing a campground I talked to a couple and they told me that the campground was closed. They also told me that there were bear in the area. I usually ignore such stuff. I started walking to the campground. A couple of minutes later I saw a bear. He was young - the size of a large dog. I didn't know what to do. I tried to shoo him away but he only looked confused. Then he realized that there was man and bounded away. This is my first bear sighting in the wild. I think I will have to be careful and keep the food well away from the tent.

I had noodles for dinner, set up camp and was out like a light. I would like to know how sore I will be tomorrow.

Lighthouse at Cap de Gaspe

Date: June 2 2000
Trail Day: 2
Miles Today: 15.6
Location: Camp near Lacs de Penouille
Section Mile: IAT 20.4
ECT Mile: 20.4

Slept like a baby. I wasn't sore at all and felt good. No bear visits. The camp was near the sea and thus at sea level. The trail led directly to an observtion tower which is on one of the highest points in the vicinity. Needless to say it was up, up and up. Coming from flat Florida, I had to stop about 15 times even though it was barely 1.5 kms (0.9 miles). The view was spectacular. They have things similar to gun sights that show exactly what is what - excellent. Cap Gaspe - where I started from looked like a stones throw away although it was 10 kms (6.2 miles). Rest of the hike was OK - the scenery was good, felt tired on the ups, OK on the downs and flew through the flats. After the ups the flats felt like rest periods.

Started seeing patches of snow. Looks like the sheltered portions still have snow. The weather is ideal for hiking, although resting for more than 15 minutes will get one shivering. There are numerous little streams with cold - cold water. I used to fantasize about ice cold water during my Florida hikes. Well, here I have it. The day started out sunny but quickly turned overcast and stayed that way. It started raining just as I reached camp and rained almost all night.

I also took two 10-15 minute naps along the way. I started dreaming almost immediately. It is bizarre when one dreams and one is somehow aware that one is just resting on the trail. In one I saw 2 sparrows chirp and hop very clearly. I wonder what this immediate dreaming means.

Taking a rest after an endless up.

Date: June 3 2000
Trail Day: 3
Miles Today: 13.6
Location: Hill between Petit Riviere Au Renaurd and Petit Cap
Section Mile: IAT 34
ECT Mile: 34

Today's hike went through an altitude of about 1500 ft. The trail was half covered with snow. It was a good experience walking on the snow. Some parts of the trail are slippery, while other parts sink in about 1.5 ft, when stepped on. It comes as a surprise and can be very tiring. Parc de la Gaspesie is at about 4000 ft. That should be interesting. As snow was still melting, lot of the trail was mucky. There were 2 instances where the bridges across the stream had been washed away and I had to get my shoes completely wet while crossing. So today was a wet shoe hike day.

I did not know that porcupines could climb trees. I saw one do just that as soon as it heard me. I also completed Park Forillion today. I really like this park and would recommend it to anyone wanting to do 2-3 day hikes. The trails have been well maintained and marked. They have also built stations for views. Overall the management has done a good job. The park is also good for sightseeing where one can get a glimpse of unspoilt sea sides.

Called Churi and Vivek as soon as I got to the first phone. Churi wasn't there but I talked to Vivek. It feels good to talk to someone you know after several days of hiking. I had a burger and fries at one of the shops. Expensive - 7 US $. It is now a 5 day road walk to Park de la Gaspesie. I am now in my tent on top of a hill. It is sloped everywhere and I tried to find the most level area possible. Even then I have a 15 degree slope. Tonight should be interesting. Maybe I will wake up at the bottom of the hill. Just kidding. There are trees everywhere. Weather wise the day started out cloudy with all my equipment wet. It cleared up around noon and it was bright and sunny. Now (6 pm), it is again cloudy and drizzling.

Date: June 4 2000
Trail Day: 4
Miles Today: 19.9
Location: Just west of unnamed tourist spot near sea
Section Mile: IAT 53.9
ECT Mile: 53.9

The day started out with either snow or hail. It was ice crystals about 1/16th of an inch. It sprinkled for 10 minutes or so. I had a brunch of a sub, 2 bananas and a soda. I then got to an information center and they told me that the next place I could get food was 28 kms (17.4 miles) away. The map showed a lot of little towns and near the Gaspe peninsula there were stores, restaurants fairly frequently. I was banking on getting food from these stores and was therfore carrying none. I had to go hungry after my brunch. The next meal will be tomorrow.

It is very windy as I am very near the open sea and the wind is cold. I was wearing my jacket with the hood up and gloves all day. People here seem to know about the IAT though they don't know where it is. The IAT people are also trying to close the the gap between Parc de la Gaspesie and Park Forillion. I could see some blazes and flags along the way. Saw a very good view of a church next to the ocean. I took a shot of it.

As soon as the series of towns near the Gaspe peninsula ended there have been no signs along the road. So I only have a rough idea of where I am. Well, I will be dreaming of food tonight.

Date: June 5 2000
Trail Day: 5
Miles Today: 16.8
Location: Campground in Grande Vallee
Section Mile: IAT 70.7
ECT Mile: 70.7

Excellent day today. The day started bright and clear although over night it was very cold (Later conversations revealed the temperature had dropped below freezing). Had a good breakfast after the fast yesterday. The road today ran along towns with stores. But I don't think I will be hiking without food any more. Mailed my first film and set of journal entries to Churi. Tried calling Kumar and Suriyan several times - no luck. Had a good lunch and dinner. Today was a relaxed day - not in terms of miles but I guess socially. Since I was walking through town I was meeting and talking to a lot of people. People seem to fall into two distinct categories - they like hikers or they hate them. The younger crowd is in general, favourably disposed. The older folks don't know what to make of me. Come up behind someone and hit him on the head with a baseball bat - that's the dazed look I get.

It is still very windy at times. If it is windy you need a jacket with hood up and gloves otherwise you can cut down your thermal barrier. But it changes very quickly. So its a cat and mouse game. I am also getting chaffing problems between my thighs. So I am walking with pants riding high to get some cloth between the problem area - you know, in sort of an Earkle fashion. I am already dark and wear glasses, throw in a nasal voice and the show should be complete.

I am now at a campground - 9$. Doing laundry after shower. Almost night, the sea is a deep dark blue while the sky is pink turning to blue. Its unbelievable. I am also down 950 ml of Labat Blue Dry Beer and feeling on top of the world.

I also got a ride from one of the local residents to a store without even asking for it. He was generous to a fault. He was born about 5 km from here and has lived here his whole life. We had an interesting conversation - me in highly broken French, him rattling away and me catching bits and pieces. Trail angels don't exist on the AT alone !!

Date: June 6 2000
Trail Day: 6
Miles Today: 19.2
Location: 2 miles west of Manche d'Epee
Section Mile: IAT 89.9
ECT Mile: 89.9

Today was a tough day. The hike started off with a 4-5 km steep climb and there were no interesting features or breakpoints for the first 18 km. The road was hard and my soles are hurting. I had breakfast and dinner at mom and pop stores. The dinner was at a home where they put 4 tables. Very quaint. Today's section was through a somewhat economically depressed area. I wonder what makes it such. There are similar towns a little east of here that are doing quite well. I was able to get internet access at Madeleine Center and made a "from the trail" entry. Towards the end of the hike (2 kms) the road is just a few feet above the sea and very level. One of the journals I had read mentioned this, although I had come away with the impression that it was like that all the way to Park Forillion - not so. Anyway, tomorrow's hike should be fairly easy and should get me to Mount Saint Pierre from where I enter the Parc de la Gaspesie by trail till the foot of Mount Jacques Cartier. Then, I do a road walk around the peak - as it is closed due to Caribou birth season and get to the resort Le Gite. There I pick up the food I had mailed from Montreal and start probably the most challenging section of my hike. There is about 3 feet of snow there although I have been told the snow is compact.

I am now about to set up camp beside the road (a safe distance away but visible from the road). I dont have a choice because there is just a narrow strip of land leading to very steep mountains. I will be waiting for it to get dark before I set up camp - just a precaution. It is very windy as it is right next to the open sea - should be interesting.

Anyway, end of a very long and tough day. Today was significant because I reached the northern most point of my hike and it is also the longest I have gone without shaving. I wanted to take a photo of myself in Manche de Epee as it is the northern most point. Its like a ghost town - no one around. I saw an old lady working in her yard and asked/signalled in French to her if she would take my photograph. She looked uncertainly for two seconds and then shook her head vehemantly and said No ! I got a photo at the store.

Date: June 7 2000
Trail Day: 7
Miles Today: 18.1
Location: Unnamed campground 2 km South of Mt. St. Pierre
Section Mile: IAT 108
ECT Mile: 108

Today was also tough on my feet and was a long day. The day started out grey and ugly and stayed that way till about 7 pm. Now the skies are clear and the sun is out. I think its going to be a cold night. Last night beside the road was no problem. I completed the roadwalk today. The roadwalk was along route 132 and was beside the sea. From here the trail heads south for a while. Today is the last I see of the sea till I perhaps get to Florida. The forest are a welcome change from the noise of the roads. It is also much warmer.

Had dinner at a canteen in Mt. St. Pierre run by Vivian and Charlie. I told them that I was trying to hike from Cap de Gaspe to Key West and they said that they had run into another gentleman who had hiked from Key West to Cap Gaspe in 1985. They showed me his hand written note. The note was a little blurred and his name as far as I could tell was Houston Fereuch Lumsden. Looks like he was a doctor and he was 50 plus when he hiked and he was dark like me ! I haven't seen any mention of this from what I have read. This deserves looking into. Anyway, she asked me to write a note also. I gave her my web address and asked her to sign the guestbook. They were a wonderful couple and were very helpful.

I was walking along side the sea where there is a wall and the sea on the other side. It has metal ladder like things every once in a while. I went down one of them to the shore and looked at the pools of water trapped between the rocks. I found numerous shrimps about 0.25 to 0.75 inches in size. I wonder if they are brill. I also got a major bonus today - saw a whale surface several times. It was awesome. I took two photographs.

Well, Mt. St. Pierre has been kind of a Mecca for me. It is what I was aiming for since I left Parc Forillion. It is a small town, so the road sign indicating it came only 6 km before. I was glad when I saw the sign. Took a photograph of it too.

I am now in a deserted campground ready to set up camp. Just before entering the trail 3 young guys drinking beer stopped their car and started talking to me in French. I told them I understood very little French and they started howling and yelling. Decided to just walk away. Asked directions from a local resident. The entire time I was talking to him he had his hands in his pants. I guess you have to run into wackos after encountering the wonderful people in the canteen to even out your probability score card.

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